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Quality not quantity

by Nicola Macdonald

Andrew Evans, MD of Thorough Events, introduces EN to an elite car show right in the heart of London.

“It’s the opposite of conventional consumer event organising,” says Andrew Evans, MD of Thorough Events.

It’s a sunny June day, and EN has popped by the Honourable Artillery Company in Moorgate, London, to check out the second edition of London Concours, a competitive exhibition of some of the world’s most iconic motor vehicles.

The event, a self-described ‘automotive garden party in the heart of the city’, aims to attract a core audience of car owners and collectors, with the emphasis on the quality, not quantity, of visitors.

“You’re not going for mass market and appealing through broad social and printed channels,” continues Evans. “I call it six-degree marketing; it’s affinity marketing rather than display marketing.”

The neat, green lawn of the Honourable Artillery Company, for two days only, is home to 130 of the world’s highest quality cars – from historic icons such as the 1950 Jaguar XK120 OTS to modern supercars like the Bugatti Veyron – with 80 competing in the concours. The vehicle that wins best in show is placed in the Rotunda at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall for one week, which, as Evans says, comes with a huge amount of prestige and pride for the competitors.

It must be an interesting logistical challenge getting all the cars into the central London venue, ventures EN.   

“Most of them are runners,” says Evans. “That’s up to the owner. If the owner feels comfortable driving the car then they’ll drive it in. As the City of London isn’t very kind to older cars – it’s very congested – a number come in on trailers.

“Ultimately they all get here one way or another and it’s a complete traffic management marshalling work of art getting them in and out. You can imagine the traffic wardens making a fortune! It’s a challenge but it works.”

A unique venue

“It’s an extraordinary setting, and we’re very privileged to be here. It’s an oasis in the centre of the city of London,” says Evans of the Honourable Artillery Company. “There is a reason we’re here, because in spitting distance there are the insurance firms, the wealth management companies and the banks who ultimately have the client base who would like to come and engage with this product. It’s the mountain going to Muhammad. It’s not a destination event; it’s the other way around.

“It’s also a military site, so we are controlled by the military. My best friend is the groundskeeper because he decides what we can and cannot do, bringing 130 cars onto that kind of lawn brings with it its own pressures.

“They were pensive last year but now they’re very proud of the event.”

The first edition of London Concours took place in 2017 and was launched in three months from end to end. Having recently left Centaur Media, where he was divisional managing director, and looking to buy an event company, Evans was approached by Thorough Events to help launch the show.

“The infrastructure is unrecognisable compared to last year,” he tells EN. “We were very proud of what we achieved, but we knew it wasn’t the end point. Last year was the start point of the journey.”

Less is more

The event has 30 exhibitors/partners, and Evans estimates that it could probably accommodate a further ten, but he is wary about packing out the space.

“Everything in the event is curated,” he explains. “The selection of the cars that make up the concours, the partner exhibitors – who are car manufacturers and exhibitors. It sounds elite but we only want the partners who are going to match the audience. When we talk about ‘specialist’ car dealers, people who sell historic cars, we’re only working with the top of that client base. We’re not overwhelmed and we don’t want to be, we have to be quite selective about who they are and their suitability for the event.

“I should add that the partnerships and sponsorships are not just limited to cars. We’ve got three watch partners here. These are high-end watch brands. The craftsmanship that goes into a watch is parallel with that of a car.”

If one thing is clear from EN’s visit to London Concours, it’s that it’s an event isn’t subject to many of the rules that dictate the average consumer show. Whereas most public events use any number of techniques to get the maximum number of visitors through the door, London Concours prefers seeking out precisely the right audience. Whereas most shows would strive to fill every possible inch of floor space, London Concours restricts itself to a small select group of exhibitors.

The event has already come on leaps and bounds compared to its hurried launch in 2017, and looks set to establish itself as one of London’s most exclusive automotive exhibitions.

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